How To Write A Career Change CV

The Career Change CV

Perfecting this style of CV should be the priority for anyone looking to change industry or sector. No other type of CV will promote you more effectively

Table of Contents

Why Career Change CVs?

Career change CVs are tricky beasts to get right, but before we examine how to write one that will achieve aspirations, its essential to understand why these CVs are required.

The days have long gone when people have a job for life. Modern business just doesn’t work this way anymore and people are generally more confident to make changes in an effort to better their circumstances.

There are 4 main reasons why people look to change their career:.

Career Progression

There may be a lack of opportunities available for an individual to progress their career with their current employer, so a tactical move to a growing company could satisfy this desire

Life Work Balance

Many people reach an age when their career often takes a back seat. This will allow an individual to gain the flexibility to spend more time at home or enjoying leisure past times

Goal Adjustments

Sometimes people just want a change due to their goals and beliefs changing over time

Inadequate Management

People often leave roles due to the inadequacy of their current employer’s management. Poor leadership can lead to frustration and friction amongst colleagues forcing people to reconsider their options

What Is A Career Change CV

Also known as a Skills based or functional CV, the Career Change CV is perfect for those individuals wanting to change the direction of their career into new sectors or industries.

It is also suitable for those who have a mixed employment history or even have no experience what so ever.

Rather than using the traditional reverse chronological employment history to attract prospective employers, the career change CV places the focus on the skills an individual has attained over their career that are appropriate to a new role.

So Why Use A Career Change CV And Not A Standard CV?

The ultimate aim of a CV is to sell your experience, skills and achievements effectively to improve your chances of being selected for an interview. Thereby providing you with the opportunity to secure career progression.

Choosing the right CV for your situation is the key to success.

In a career change CV the skills, supported by key achievements secured using these skills, are the sales focus of the CV. If an employer can see demonstrable experience utilising a skill, they are more likely to shortlist the individual for an interview.

If you use a standard CV layout, the skills are hidden amongst the employment history section making them harder to find and reducing your chances of interview selection.

What Makes A Career Change CV Different To A Standard CV?

The difference between the two types of CV is centred on the layout.

A standard CV uses the employment history to sell an individual, therefore this section is usually found on the first page of the CV under the professional profile, contact details and qualifications. This makes the relevant information easy for the reader to find and assimilate all the relevant information.

As the career change CV relies heavily on the skills held by the individual, this section must be elevated to a more prominent location on the CV, the front page. With this in mind, a Career Change CV is most effective if it has the following layout:

Standard CV Layout
Career Change CV Layout

The layout changes shouldn’t stop there.

To be most effective at promoting your skills, its best that the section is broken up using bullet points and each skill title is highlighted further using a bold font.

Approaching the section in this way really makes the skills pop out to the reader and dramatically increases your chances of selection for interview..

The Importance Of A Profile

Every CV should contain a Professional Profile / Personal Statement at the top, just under the Name and contact details. However, This is more important with Career Change CVs than any other.

Yes profiles can be tedious to write, and yes they are sometimes a little tricky to get right, but overcoming these hurdles will improve the effectiveness of the CV.

A profile on a skills based CV should be full of skills! Not rocket science, however to get the right balance of skills, other key information and making it easy to read is an art. One which will take some perfecting.

Not sure how to write a professional profile? Then check out our post or watch our professional profile video on our YouTube channel

What Skills Should Be Included In A Career Change CV?

Every CV is different. It’s a reflection of the authors background and should also be adapted to each application. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what to put in your CV. I can, however, give you ideas to spark some inspiration.

Skills come in 2 forms, hard and soft. 

Each skills section of a CV should contain a mixture of both to provide the reader with an impression that the applicant is well balanced and certainly one to consider for interview.


What Are Hard Skills?

Any skill that can be quantified by a qualification/certification is considered a hard skill. This could be your ability to drive or your knowledge of online advertising through pay per click media. If you receive a certificate, then it goes down as a hard skill.

These can revolve around the following 9 skills


Did you receive a certificate for a particular technical skill such as driving a forklift truck, rewiring a boiler or designated as the office first aider..


What software packages are you proficient in? Excelwordpress, or an industry specific package.


Have you been trained to analyse trend, patterns or financial data


Do you hold a certification in any type of marketing


Have you had to undertake business presentations?


Are you a qualified manager? Undertaken Project Management responsibilities? Perhaps, recently gained an MBA


Are you a published writer or have you drafted business materials


Are you fluent in another language?


Have you gained a design qualification (graphic, fashion, engineering)

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What Are Soft Skills?

Unlike the hard skills, soft skills are those that can’t be quantified through the possession of a qualification and are, as a consequence, harder to identify and even harder to justify on a CV.

So, what are the traditionally recognised 6 soft skills..


Have you held a leadership role? Not necessarily a managerial position but possibly a team leader or supervisor.


How effectively do you work in a team?


Are you comfortable communicating with people of all levels through written and verbal communication?

Problem Solving

Able to think on your feet? Often used in a troubleshooting role?

Work Ethic

This one is open to clichés which you need to avoid at all costs. I often recommend people avoid this on their CV as an interviewer will ascertain this at the interview stage.


Have you worked remotely from home or worked extra hours to ensure a contract was completed on time

Sources of Soft Skills

When I ask Clients to objectively look at themselves and describe their achievements and skills I am often met by silence. Yes, there are many people who love to brag and talk themselves up, however the vast majority hate self-publication and struggle to identify the information to place in their profile.

Here are our top tips on how to find the information to include in your profile..

Job Specification

Take the job specification for the role you are applying for and, with a highlighter, identify the keywords included in the spec. This can include the experience levels required and any skills that are essential or desirable for the role.

Ask A Friend

Find a colleague or former colleague that will provide you with an unbiased view of your key skills and your level of attainment. The key to this is finding someone who is unbiased, not your best friend in the office who will probably tell you what they think you want to hear.

Job Adverts

Spend some time searching current adverts for similar roles to your current position. Adverts often mention the soft skills required for a role and all you need to do is simply identify which ones you can demonstrate a proficient level of attainment.

Performance Reviews

Depending on how seriously your employer takes the performance review process, it can be a great source of vital information. It not only provides you with skills you use but your boss also assesses these capabilities for you. Perfect for selecting skills for your CV.

Need a template to kick start your CV, then try our FREE Career Change CV Template. Simply download, enter your details, save and send. Couldn’t be simpler!

If you liked this article please share it and help others with their Career Change CV

About The Author

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace

Interview Coach & CV Writer

An Interview Coach and CV Writer with over 23 years' experience working in the recruitment industry. Thats why he's lost his hair!

Starting as an Executive Headhunter in the City of London and more recently acting as an independent consultant advising job searchers on how to successfully progress their career to the next level,

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